The Mythic Arc of Predatory Desire in Jewish Legend: primary sources on the origin and end of predation

In advance of this year’s Hazon Food Conference I’ve prepared a source sheet packet containing text arranged to elucidate what I’ve called the Mythic Arc of Predatory Desire in Jewish Legend.

It’s intended to accompany other primary source text studies in Jewish Animal Ethics by presenting the legendary material informing Jewish cultural attitudes towards hunting, meat eating, and sexual predation. The vision of the work spans this world and the next, an etiology (origin myth) for creatures consuming one another in the nature of this world, a mytho-theological explanation of tactics used to circumscribe predatory appetite, and an eschatology (myth of the end) describing the birth of a new world where predatory nature is overcome.

The work is also meant to accompany in-person teaching on the subject, so it is not entirely comprehensive and doesn’t provide thorough explanations for every source text. (For example, it doesn’t really get into the myths and halakhah that object to interbreeding/mixing, or why specific species of animals were considered kosher while others were not.) Working on it, it’s impossible for me not to consider this a draft to be added to and revised. However, I think it may already be useful in its current condition, especially for those who have sought for the purpose of the eldritch covenants at Mt. Ararat and Mt. Sinai in Jewish literature, and how the rivalry with Amalek and the prophetic dream of a just world might fit in with those.

As always, I invite comment and feedback.


A personal note: while I have tried to keep an impartial voice, my personal view is implied in the selection, arrangement, and explanation for the texts. So this should be read less as an academic study and more in line with a religious passion to educate and share sacred teaching.

About Aharon N. Varady

Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes. He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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